Rams lose to Seahawks 20-9, leaving their playoff hopes to final game

The Rams can still make it to the playoffs. They just can’t make it easy on themselves and their fans.

They lost another chance to clinch a playoff berth Sunday when a painful afternoon for Jared Goff and the Rams’ offense saw the Seattle Seahawks walk away from a tense game with a 20-9 victory before empty stands at Lumen Field in Seattle.

Seattle (11-4) clinched the NFC West title, and the first two-game losing streak of the season for the Rams (9-6) left them needing victory over Arizona or a Chicago loss at Green Bay next Sunday to earn a wild-card spot.

  • Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) is sacked by Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Jarran Reed (90), center, and defensive end Benson Mayowa (95), left, during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 20-9. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

  • Seattle Seahawks strong safety Jamal Adams (33) reacts to a play against the Los Angeles Rams during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 20-9. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

  • Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald sacks Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 20-9. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

  • Seattle Seahawks tight end Jacob Hollister (86) catches a pass for a touchdown in front of Los Angeles Rams strong safety Jordan Fuller (32) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

  • Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) is sacked by Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald (99), right, during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Scott Eklund)

  • Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) walks off the field after a play against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

  • Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay walks on the field late in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 20-9. (AP Photo/Scott Eklund)

  • Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) walks off the field during the second half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 20-9. (AP Photo/Scott Eklund)

  • The Seattle Seahawks defense celebrates a stop on third down against the Los Angeles Rams during the third quarter at Lumen Field on December 27, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

  • Seattle Seahawks tight end Jacob Hollister (86) forces a fumble by Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Nsimba Webster (14) on a punt return during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. The Rams recovered the ball. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

  • The Seattle Seahawks celebrate a touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams during the fourth quarter at Lumen Field on December 27, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Rams running back Darrell Henderson Jr. (27) leaves the field with an injury during the second half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Scott Eklund)

  • Seattle Seahawks free safety Quandre Diggs (37) runs after intercepting a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Scott Eklund)

  • Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) tries to fend off a sack by Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald (99) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

  • Jalen Ramsey #20 of the Los Angeles Rams and Bobby Wagner #54 of the Seattle Seahawks talk during the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field on December 27, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

  • Ugo Amadi #28 of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates after a stop against the Los Angeles Rams during the fourth quarter at Lumen Field on December 27, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

  • Seattle Seahawks strong safety Jamal Adams (33) reacts to a play with Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) in the background, during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Scott Eklund)

  • Los Angeles Rams running back Darrell Henderson Jr. (27) runs Seattle Seahawks during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

  • Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods gestures after making a catch for a first down during the first half an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

  • Members of the Seattle Seahawks celebrate a touchdown by Jacob Hollister #86 against the Los Angeles Rams during the fourth quarter at Lumen Field on December 27, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

  • Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) runs for a touchdown as Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Michael Brockers (90) looks on during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

  • Los Angeles Rams kicker Matt Gay (1) kicks a field goal against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Scott Eklund)

  • Los Angeles Rams defensive back Jalen Ramsey knocks the ball away from Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

  • Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) runs with the ball on a keeper play as Los Angeles Rams linebacker Terrell Lewis (52) closes in during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

  • Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) is sacked by Los Angeles Rams outside linebacker Leonard Floyd (54) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Scott Eklund)

  • Seattle Seahawks free safety Quandre Diggs (37) reacts with defensive end Benson Mayowa (95) and linebacker Bobby Wagner (54) after Diggs intercepted a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Scott Eklund)

  • Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods (17) is tackled by Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Bryan Mone (92) after a reception during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Scott Eklund)

  • Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks stretches the ball into the end zone for a touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams during the third quarter at Lumen Field on December 27, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

  • The Seattle Seahawks celebrate an interception by Quandre Diggs #37 against the Los Angeles Rams during the second quarter at Lumen Field on December 27, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

  • Jordan Fuller #32 and Justin Hollins #58 of the Los Angeles Rams break up a pass intended for Greg Olsen #88 of the Seattle Seahawks during the second quarter at Lumen Field on December 27, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) passes under pressure from Seattle Seahawks defensive end Carlos Dunlap II (43) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

  • Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson (32) leaps to try and avoid a tackle from Los Angeles Rams cornerback Darious Williams (31) as inside linebacker Kenny Young (41) closes in during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Scott Eklund)

  • Los Angeles Rams kicker Matt Gay (1) kicks a field goal against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

  • Sebastian Joseph-Day #69 of the Los Angeles Rams sacks Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks during the first quarter at Lumen Field on December 27, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

  • Quandre Diggs #37 and Jamal Adams #33 of the Seattle Seahawks break up a pass intended for Tyler Higbee #89 of the Los Angeles Rams during the second quarter at Lumen Field on December 27, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

  • Jamal Adams #33 of the Seattle Seahawks breaks up a pass intended for Tyler Higbee #89 of the Los Angeles Rams during the second quarter at Lumen Field on December 27, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

  • Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3), left, passes against the Los Angeles Rams during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

  • Ugo Amadi #28 of the Seattle Seahawks pressures Jared Goff #16 of the Los Angeles Rams during the first quarter at Lumen Field on December 27, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) passes against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Scott Eklund)

  • Jared Goff #16 of the Los Angeles Rams looks to pass against the Seattle Seahawks during the first quarter at Lumen Field on December 27, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

  • Chris Carson #32 of the Seattle Seahawks is tackled by Darious Williams #31 of the Los Angeles Rams during the second quarter at Lumen Field on December 27, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

  • Head coach Sean McVay of the Los Angeles Rams looks on during the second quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field on December 27, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) calls for the snap on the line of scrimmage during the first half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

  • Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) prepares to take a snap from Austin Blythe (66) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Scott Eklund)

  • Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Greg Gaines (91) runs out to the field with teammates before an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Scott Eklund)

  • Aaron Donald #99 of the Los Angeles Rams looks on before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field on December 27, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

  • Sebastian Joseph-Day #69 of the Los Angeles Rams douses his face with water before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field on December 27, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

  • Empty seats are shown during warmups before an NFL football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, at Lumen Field in Seattle. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, no fans were in attendance at the game. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

“We’ve got to figure it out,” Goff said. “We’ve lost two in a row, at a time in the season when we had to win these two games and just didn’t get it done. We will figure it out. We have in the past. Just keep believing, and we will move forward.”

They’ll begin the make-or-break week with questions about the health of Goff and running backs Darrell Henderson and Cam Akers.

TV replays showed Goff popping his right thumb back into its socket after he slammed it on the helmet of Seattle defensive end Benson Mayowa’s helmet as he followed through on a pass late in the third quarter.

Goff didn’t come out of the game, and said the thumb didn’t bother him when he threw the ball in the fourth quarter.

But he said he was “uncertain” if he’d be OK for the Cardinals game.

“It’s OK right now. It’s not terrible,” he said Sunday. “We’ll see tomorrow.”

Goff completed 23 of 43 passes for 234 yards, no touchdowns and one interception, and was sacked three times.

That interception and a Seahawks goal-line stand after the Rams had first down at the 2 early in the second half were big reasons the offense failed to score a touchdown for the first time since the Super Bowl two seasons ago.

The Seahawks put the game away by taking an 11-point lead with 2:51 to play when Russell Wilson hit tight end Jacob Hollister for a 13-yard touchdown to cap a 4 1/2-minute drive.

Seattle had gone ahead 13-6 on a masterful first drive of the second half by Wilson, who scrambled for a 4-yard touchdown after a 45-yard pass to David Moore and a creative 18-yard toss to Carlos Hyde.

It was then that the Rams had first-and-goal and a chance to tie the score. But Goff and Malcolm Brown were stopped on runs on third and fourth down at the 1. Seattle took the ball back.

“We obviously have to finish drives (with touchdowns),” Goff said.

That sequence might have had longer-term costs. Henderson went down grabbing the back of his left leg after a 5-yard run to the 2. He didn’t return to the game, and no update on his condition was offered afterward.

With Akers out for the Seattle game and maybe more because of an ankle sprain, and Henderson’s condition unclear, Brown could be the last man standing in the Rams’ running back rotation.

Rams players insisted they aren’t losing confidence as playoff-clinching chances slip away and injuries mount.

“It’s frustrating,” cornerback Jalen Ramsey said after another game in which the defense did its part. “I’m not going to sit here and say I’m discouraged or not optimistic about what we’ve got in front of us.

“We’re going hold ourselves accountable and be very critical of ourselves. Yeah, we’re definitely going to do that. We’ve got to get it together ASAP.”

The season’s second meeting with the Seahawks had been circled on the Rams’ calendars as the teams took turns leading the NFC West for the past five weeks, and its importance only grew.

The Rams’ first chance to clinch a playoff spot fizzed when they lost, unthinkably, to the 0-13 Jets the previous Sunday. Their second vanished when the 49ers beat the Cardinals on Saturday. Their third, a longshot, went away when the Bears beat the Jaguars in an early game Sunday.

That left the Rams needing to beat or tie the Seahawks to grab at least a wild-card playoff berth with one week’s breathing room and to take the edge in the division-title race. If they didn’t, their chance of getting the NFC’s seventh and last wild-card spot would rest on next Sunday’s Rams’ home game against the Cardinals and the Bears’ home game against the Packers.

The kickers took turns to account for all the scoring in the first half, Matt Gay’s 51-yarder in the second quarter his longest since he joined the Rams six games ago.

As they did when they beat the Seahawks 23-16 at SoFi Stadium in November, the Rams put Wilson under pressure, ending first-half drives with third-down sacks by Leonard Floyd (two, giving him 9-1/2 this season) and Sebastian Joseph-Day (his first of the season).

On the Rams’ side, Goff was off to a rough day. He started all right, completing third-down passes to Cooper Kupp (twice) and Robert Woods on the drive from the L.A. 13 to Gay’s 44-yard field goal for the game’s first points. But he missed receivers, looked hesitant in deciding when to run and when to pass, and threw a terrible interception.

The pickoff by Seattle safety Quandre Diggs came with the Rams on the move at the Seahawks’ 29 and looking to take a two-score lead late in the second quarter. The famously even-tempered Goff went to the sidelines and, no, he didn’t slam his helmet down. He did lay it down hard.

The Seahawks took the ball and drove to Jason Myers’ 49-yard field goal to make it 6-6 at halftime.

Goff called the interception “one of the worst plays I’ve had in my career.”

Coach Sean McVay, characteristically, tried to take blame for the offense’s poor showing but said Goff had “a rough outing.”

“Jared and I, we’re in this together,” McVay said.

The Rams were always able to bounce back from losses this season, but not this time. Now they have to bounce back from two losses or their season might be over.

“This has been a humbling, tough, up and down year, a lot of good, a lot of frustrating things,” McVay said. “But I do love this football team. I love the way they continue to battle, compete to the end.

“We’re disappointed, but we still have a chance to kind of gather ourselves and regroup and see if we can get our 10th win against Arizona next week.”

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